Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Super-sensitive and small: New MIT detector uses nanotubes to sense deadly gases

Image / Chang Young Lee
MIT researchers are designing sensors that use carbon nanotubes, shown here in middle and at top, to detect hazardous gases.
Image / Chang Young Lee

MIT researchers are designing sensors that use carbon nanotubes, shown here in middle and at top, to detect hazardous gases.

Abstract:
Using carbon nanotubes, MIT chemical engineers have built the most sensitive electronic detector yet for sensing deadly gases such as the nerve agent sarin.

Super-sensitive and small: New MIT detector uses nanotubes to sense deadly gases

Cambridge, MA | Posted on June 9th, 2008

The technology, which could also detect mustard gas, ammonia and VX nerve agents, has potential to be used as a low-cost, low-energy device that could be carried in a pocket or deployed inside a building to monitor hazardous chemicals.

"We think this could be applied to a variety of environmental and security applications," said Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and senior author of a paper describing the work published this week in the online edition of Angewandte Chemie.

Strano's sensor has exhibited record sensitivity to molecules mimicking organophosphate nerve toxins such as sarin: It can detect minute quantities as low as 1 femtomole (1 billion molecules), roughly equivalent to a concentration of 25 parts per trillion. "There's nothing that even comes close," he said.

Sarin, which killed 12 people in a 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway, can kill at very low concentrations (parts per million) after 10 minutes, so highly sensitive detection is imperative to save lives. The new detector is far more sensitive than needed to detect lethal doses.

To build their super-sensitive detector, Strano and his team used an array of carbon nanotubes aligned across microelectrodes. Each tube consists of a single-layer lattice of carbon atoms, rolled into a long cylinder with a diameter about 1/50,000 of the width of a human hair, which acts as a molecular wire.

The nanotube sensors require very little power--about 0.0003 watts. One sensor could run essentially forever on a regular battery. "It's something that could sit in the corner of a room and you could just forget about it," Strano said.

When a particular gas molecule binds to the carbon nanotube, the tube's electrical conductivity changes. Each gas affects conductivity differently, so gases can be identified by measuring the conductivity change after binding.

The researchers achieved new levels of sensitivity by coupling the nanotubes with a miniature gas-chromatography column etched onto a silicon chip smaller than a penny. The column rapidly separates different gases before feeding them into the nanotubes.

The new MIT sensor is also the first nanotube sensor that is passively reversible at this level of sensitivity. To achieve this, the team needed to decrease how strongly the nanotube sensor binds different gas molecules on its surface, allowing the sensor to detect a series of gas exposures in rapid succession.

Using a newly described chemistry outlined in a separate paper published in January in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Strano and co-workers showed that this can be done by coating the nanotubes with amine-type molecules, which donate an extra pair of electrons to the nanotubes.

The coating allows gas molecules to bind to nanotubes but detach a few milliseconds later, allowing another molecule from the column to move in. With a network of these reversible sensors, a gas could be tracked as it spreads through a large area.

The lead author of the paper is Chang Young Lee, a graduate student in chemical engineering. Richa Sharma, another MIT graduate student in chemical engineering, is also an author of the paper. Adarsh Radadia and Richard Masel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the microcolumn technology.

The work was funded by the Department of Homeland Security under contract to the Federal Aviation Administration and MIT's Institute of Soldier Nanotechnology. Characterization facilities used for this work were supported by the Department of Energy. Microcolumn and detector development was funded in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

####

About MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Elizabeth A. Thomson
MIT News Office
Phone: 617-258-5402
E-mail:

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Nanobiotix: Update on Head and Neck Phase I/II Trial with NBTXR3 and Other program data presented at ImmunoRad 2018 September 20th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Carbon nanodots do an ultrafine job with in vitro lung tissue: New experiments highlight the role of charge and size when it comes to carbon nanodots that mimic the effect of nanoscale pollution particles on the human lung. September 12th, 2018

Graphene nanotubes outperform ammonium salts and carbon black in PU applications September 11th, 2018

S, N co-doped carbon nanotube-encapsulated CoS2@Co: Efficient and stable catalysts for water splitting September 10th, 2018

Peering into private life of atomic clusters -- using the world's tiniest test tubes September 6th, 2018

Sensors

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Leti Announces EU Project to Develop Powerful, Inexpensive Sensors with Photonic Integrated Circuits: REDFINCH Members Initially Targeting Applications for Gas Detection and Analysis For Refineries & Petrochemical Industry and Protein Analysis for Dairy Industry September 19th, 2018

Rice U. lab probes molecular limit of plasmonics: Optical effect detailed in organic molecules with fewer than 50 atoms September 5th, 2018

Measuring the nanoworld September 4th, 2018

Discoveries

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

NUS researchers invent new test kit for quick, accurate and low-cost screening of diseases: Test results are denoted by a color change and could be further analyzed by a smartphone app, making it attractive as a point-of-care diagnostic device September 19th, 2018

Announcements

Searching for errors in the quantum world September 21st, 2018

Viral RNA sensing: Optical detection of picomolar concentrations of RNA using switches in plasmonic chirality September 21st, 2018

UT engineers develop first method for controlling nanomotors: Breakthrough for nanotechnology as UT engineers develop first method for switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors September 21st, 2018

Nanobiotix: Update on Head and Neck Phase I/II Trial with NBTXR3 and Other program data presented at ImmunoRad 2018 September 20th, 2018

Homeland Security

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Powering the 21st Century with Integrated Photonics: UCSB-Led Team Selected for Demonstration of a Novel Waveguide Platform Which is Transparent Throughout the MWIR and LWIR Spectral Bands June 19th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

The dispute about the origins of terahertz photoresponse in graphene results in a draw April 26th, 2018

Military

Ultracold atoms used to verify 1963 prediction about 1D electrons: Rice University, University of Geneva study focuses on theory that's increasingly relevant to chipmakers September 5th, 2018

Neutrophil nanosponges soak up proteins that promote rheumatoid arthritis September 3rd, 2018

Virginia Tech researchers develop novel process to 3D print one of the strongest materials on Earth August 23rd, 2018

Biomimetic micro/nanoscale fiber reinforced composites August 10th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project